Age is a privilege, and this month's Most Inspiring Member lives that fully. Moms on the Run is blessed to have a membership full of women in varying stages of life. Cathy Schmit, a coach with White Bear Lake Moms on the Run, is a perfect example of someone who has continued to stay active — despite physical injuries, surgeries and the excuse of retirement. Read on to learn more about her story.
Q: How long have you been a part of Moms on the Run? How did you get started? Have you always been a runner?
A: I retired in July of 2012, just shy of my 56th birthday. I have always been active, mostly in aerobic classes, with a few attempts at short runs. I knew that I needed a group to keep me going and happened to read an article about Moms on the Run in the White Bear Press. It took me a few weeks to get my nerve up, but then I contacted Beth Jensen to inquire about the group. I started with the fall session and have never looked back. From that point on, I ran year round, throwing myself into the weekly runs and also races.
Q: Any advice to those of us with aging knees and bodies?
A: Don’t do what I did! Moderation and pacing are the key, along with cross training, none of which I did at the beginning. I suffered through meniscus tears, IT band issues, and plantar fasciitis.
Q: Tell us a little about your knee injuries and subsequent surgeries in the last year?
A: In the spring of 2016, knowing that I’d turn 60 in September and feeling pretty good, I challenged myself to see how much I could do with my running. By the time fall rolled around, I had completed the Stillwater Challenge (1/2 marathon and two 10-mile runs), Great River Ragnar, TC 10-mile, the first Northwoods Trail Ragnar, and several other smaller races. Looking back, I’m so glad that I challenged myself because little did I know, that would be the end of my long runs. While running the next winter, my knees became increasingly more painful. In the spring of 2017, I underwent another meniscus repair, followed by cortisone injections, lots of physical therapy, and eventually Synvisc injections for osteoarthritis. My running was minimal that season. Nothing provided relief, so in March 2018, I made the decision to look into knee replacement. I had my left knee done on April 11 and seven weeks later, on May 30, the right knee was replaced. I asked my surgeon to take pictures during surgery so I could see what my knees looked like — not a pretty sight. There was no cartilage left and lots of wearing away of bone. No injections or therapy would have helped. It was a really long recovery period, having had both done so close together. I was told that I should look to biking in the future because running was a really bad idea. However, always in the back of my mind was the thought that I’d have to at least give it a try at some point. I vowed to wait until one year had passed from my second procedure. Well, I worked really hard and resumed Body Pump classes four months after my second procedure and did a lot of walking. While in Florida in January 2019, I walked the beach a lot. One day, I just decided to run and see what it felt like. It was a little awkward and stiff at first, but got better. The most important thing was that there was no pain — just stiffness. It was then that the thought of running a 5K was possible.
When I received the email for Women Run the Cities, my mind was set. I broke my vow to wait a year from surgeries and started training. Three MOTR friends and my oldest daughter, Adrienne (also with MOTR), ran with me through a steady rain. After running the first mile, I had to take a few short walk breaks, but crossed the finish line running hand in hand with my daughter and dear friends. It was a special moment that I won’t forget. I know that I’ll never run long distances again, but that’s ok. Just being able to run a few miles, return to coaching for MOTR, and being part of the group is enough. I know it’s been said by so many, but nothing can compare to the joy that running with Moms on the Run has given me and the friends that I’ve made.
Q: Share a little about you personally (family, background, hobbies, etc.)
A: Besides my 16-year-old grandson, Dominick, in Minnesota, I have two young grandchildren in Colorado: Mason is 2-1/2 and Hadley is 5-1/2 months. My husband, Greg, and I are fortunate to be able to split our time between Minnesota and Colorado and, within a couple years, will probably be in Colorado full time. When I’m not running, I enjoy knitting and sewing. I was so excited when Sam, my daughter, told us she was having a girl because my dream was to sew dresses for a little girl. So far, I’ve made three! I’ve also taken up Pickleball, which I’m enjoying a lot.